The year 1971 was a turbulent time on college campuses all across America. Newscasts were full of antiwar protests, civil-rights marches, and sit-ins with loudspeakers blaring the words of Bob Dylan’s eclectic poetry and the songs of screamin’, whiskey-voiced Janis Joplin. As a student at a small college in South Dakota, I desperately needed a challenge—a major change, something radical and outlandish. I longed to upset the whole program, question authority, move to a foreign country, and exchange this reality for a new set of faces, a new location, a new language.With more daring than common sense, I began the search for an adventure. Amsterdam or Copenhagen? Kathmandu or Timbuktu? Oslo? Oslo. For this disgruntled college student, the fjords and mountains of Norway seemed irresistible. I had Norwegian ancestors and knew a handful of words and some basic phrases. The countryside rivaled the Swiss Alps and university was tuition-free. An excellent choice!With a backpack, an overstuffed duffle bag, and soaring expectations, I began a year of university life at 60° north. Autumn brought cold mountain winds and winter brought on darkness. The Norwegian language became an obsession. I spent hours walking the cobblestone streets of Oslo, immersed in the living language and culture. On many a winter day I found inspiration in the wooden ships in the harbor, their decks blanketed with snow, their rigging whistling in the darkness.

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